Mass spectrometry imaging of phosphatidylcholine metabolism in lungs administered with therapeutic surfactants and isotopic tracers

January 2021.

Shane R. Ellis, Emily Hall, Madhuriben Panchal, Bryn Flinders, Jens Madsen, Grielof KosterRon.M.AHeeren, Howard W. Clark, Anthony D. Postle 


Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) visualizes molecular distributions throughout tissues but is blind to dynamic metabolic processes. Here, MSI with high mass resolution together with multiple stable isotope labelling provided spatial analyses of phosphatidylcholine (PC) metabolism in mouse lungs. 

Dysregulated surfactant metabolism is central to many respiratory diseases. Metabolism and turnover of therapeutic pulmonary surfactants were imaged from distributions of intact and metabolic products of an added tracer, universally 13C-labelled dipalmitoyl PC (U13C-DPPC). The parenchymal 

distributions of newly synthesized PC species were also imaged from incorporations of methyl-D9- choline. This dual labelling strategy demonstrated both lack of inhibition of endogenous PC synthesis by exogenous surfactant and location of acyl chain remodeling processes acting on the U13C-DPPClabelled surfactant, leading to formation of polyunsaturated PC lipids. This ability to visualize discrete metabolic events will greatly enhance our understanding of lipid metabolism in diverse tissues and has potential application to both clinical and experimental studies. 

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